West Ham United made it four wins on the spin by defeating Southampton 3-1 on Saturday and manager Sam Allardyce was delighted with his side's performance.

He had praise for the clinical edge shown by his attacking players, which sat in contrast to the visitors, who spurned opportunities through Rickie Lambert, Gaston Ramirez and Adam Lallana.

Instead, Matt Jarvis, Carlton Cole and Kevin Nolan all scored to wipe out Maya Yoshida's early opener for the Saints and send the majority of the Boleyn Ground crowd home happy.

The three points lifted West Ham up into the top half of the Barclays Premier League table - just three games after they occupied a position in the division's bottom three - and even means they have now picked up more points this term than at this stage 12 months ago.

It came as little surprise, then, that Big Sam wore a broad smile at the final whistle on Saturday.

He told West Ham TV: "It's four wins on the trot, and one against a side of Southampton's quality, which has been praised a huge amount this season and, as ourselves, has been in particularly good form.

"That made for an intriguing game and what we saw is that we ended up having better quality finishing than Southampton.

"We all know how much praise has been heaped on Lambert, Rodriguez and Lallana about the goals they've scored and they way they've scored them, but it's our lads up front - it's Kevin Nolan, Carlton Cole, Matt Jarvis and their quality which has outshone Southampton.

"That's the reason why we've won 3-1, because we all know how good we are at defending. We had a big disappointment after just a few minutes when we gave away a free-kick and lost a goal, but in the end it's an outstanding victory."

The manager says the improvement in the Hammers' finishing is the reason behind their recent improvement in form.

He continued: "You always need something a bit special at this level and we're producing something a bit special in every game we're playing right now.

"We know how to do the nitty-gritty, the hard work of stopping the opposition playing. We all believe in doing that and now the quality players that are good on the ball, who can create and cause the opposition did brilliantly today, and got us back from 1-0 down to win 3-1.

West Ham now have 31 points from their 27 league matches - one more than from 27 last term - and Allardyce believes the recent run has been the perfect riposte to the critics.

He added: "It's a fantastic stat considering the amount of criticism we've had to suffer over the last few months. It shuts everybody up and makes them say 'wow, I didn't know that one'.

"Nobody would have gone away from here thinking that we've got more points that at this stage this year. It's an outstanding spell that we never had last season - we never won back-to-back games last season but finished tenth.

"Everyone thought we had a fantastic season, which we did, everyone thinks we've had a diabolical season now, but now we're one point ahead of where we were last year."